3 August 2010

Tuesday Title: Lost Highway

Each Tuesday I post a still from the opening titles of a film - as a celebration of great title sequences, cinematic use of typography and the feeling of anticipation in waiting for a film to start...

Today: Lost Highway (David Lynch/1997)

Fade in on a fast POV view of a road at night. Car headlights illuminate the centre lines dividing the two sides of the road - a sly indication, perhaps, of the two distinct (but ultimately intertwined) narrative segments of Lost Highway, and the doubling theme employed - as ever -by David Lynch for his "21st Century horror noir".

The opening titles zoom at the screen in block yellow stencil type. David Bowie's 'I'm Deranged' cuts in: he sings, "Funny how secrets travel." We know Lynch loves his secrets. And of course he loves the open road - as long as it leads us somewhere dark and dreamy, and never, ever comes to an end.  

Lost Highway constantly splits off down warped avenues, to only then converge back to the staring point - though seen from different perspectives a second, third or fourth time. And then seemingly plays again and again - down the same road, but with infinite possibilities for careering off in further new directions.

We see just how secrets have traveled come the end of the film. Time has looped around, veered left and right (but never straight down the middle), and then doubled back on itself several times over. The opening titles become the closing credits: a visual repeat, but with significant and baffling alterations. Lynch's spectacular mindfuck brings back Bowie's song (more ethereal this time) to usher the film into desperate head-morphing oblivion. Lost Highway will always fascinate me - and its titles will always give me a thrilling jolt each time I watch them.

But maybe one of Lynch's naughtiest secrets is the fact that Lost Highway's opening titles are, in fact, very similar to Jack Cardiff's for his 1968 film Girl on a Motorcycle. (You can see the opening titles sequence for Girl on a Motorcycle at the excellent The Art of the Title website - scroll down to the second post, then scroll down slightly further to compare and contrast with Lost Highway's opening titles.) Lynch, you sly ol' dog.

This is the last Tuesday Title for a while. But it is...

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